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February 23, 2013

Pitino expects to say goodbye to Dieng after season

Going, going. . .

"He's gone," said Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino.

Pitino was referring to center Gorgui Dieng during his press conference Friday afternoon. No, not gone for the rest of this season, but Pitino doesn't expect the 6-foot-11 junior to be wearing a Cardinal uniform for the 2013-14 season.

Instead, Pitino believes Dieng will be earning a living with an NBA team after entering his name in the spring draft. Nothing has been decided yet, of course, and Dieng wasn't available for comment, but Pitino indicated he is planning for Dieng's early departure.

"He's gone, in my mind," Pitino says. "Not in Gorgui's mind. It's up to him to make those decisions, but in my mind, and the reason I say that is because I think (a) he's ready and (b) he has a lot of growth in basketball ahead of him because he hasn't been playing basketball that long, five years.

"Pros don't look at it that way, they look at it as he's 23 going on 24. What they need to look at is he's only been playing five years and he has so much room for improvement. Now Gorgui has to make his own decision. I'll advise him at the right time."

Pitino says the two haven't talked about Dieng's future yet. That will have to wait until after the season, which the Cards hope will be in early April following the Final Four in Atlanta.

"We don't talk about the pros at all," Pitino says. "I told him we'll address it after the (NCAA) championship game."

Going into Saturday's noon game against Seton Hall (13-14, 2-12) in the KFC Yum! Center, Dieng is UofL's leading rebounder at 10.3 per game and shot-blocker (2.7 per game). In Big East games only, he leads the league in rebounding (11.5 rpg) and is second in blocked shots (3.0 bpg), just four blocks fewer than leader Chris Obekpa, who has played in one more game.

Dieng is also averaging 9.1 points per game and shooting 47.7 percent from the field. Heading down the stretch of the regular season, Pitino is trying to get Dieng to be more effective shooting mid-range jump shots.

"Gorgui is a very good passer, he's got to figure out how to get his jump shot off more because he's a very good jump shooter, much better than you would ever imagine," Pitino says. "So we're trying to get him in positions where he can take that shot without rushing it."

Against reeling Seton Hall, No. 12 Louisville (21-5, 9-4) will be heavily favored to win its third in a row since the five-overtime defeat at Notre Dame and stay on the heels of Big East co-leaders Syracuse, Georgetown and Marquette, all of whom are 10-3 in the conference.

Seton Hall, coached by former UofL assistant Kevin Willard, has been plagued by injuries after a 12-2 start and has lost eight straight and 12 of its last 13, including a 67-46 home loss to Marquette Wednesday during which the Golden Eagles had a 25-1 run in the second half. The Cards beat the Pirates, 73-58, on Jan. 9 in Newark, N.J.

"The effect of all the injuries have really demoralized this team," Willard said, "to the point where a 25-1 run happens and we don't have much fight in us. That's a little bit of being young and not having a whole lot of depth."

"I'm not really frustrated with [the players]. I'm just frustrated overall. I think [the lack of depth] is wearing down on us more mentally than physically. Physically, we're getting outmatched. It's tough to keep battling when you're so undersized."


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